World Laws
Australia and New Zealand

Australian Legislation

Disability Discrimination Act of 1992

Australian flagThe focus on web accessibility in Australia has largely come as a result of the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) of 1992. This Act includes several statements that could directly apply to web accessibility. Under section 24 it is unlawful for a person who provides goods, facilities or services to discriminate on the grounds of disability by:

  • refusing to provide the other person with those goods or services or to make those facilities available to the other person; or
  • in the terms or conditions on which the first-mentioned person provides the other person with those goods or services or makes those facilities available to another person; or
  • in the manner in which the first mentioned person provides the other person with those goods or services or makes those facilities available to the other person.

Important Web Accessibility Documents, Reports, and Events

World Wide Web Access: Disability Discrimination Act Advisory Notes

The document, World Wide Web Access: Disability Discrimination Act Advisory Notes (Version 3.2) was created in August 2002 by the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission (HREOC) who has the responsibility for ensuring that Commonwealth web sites are accessible to all. These notes are not legal requirements, but contain advice on how to avoid discrimination. The following guidelines were given on the HREOC site as to how best to make use of these DDA Advisory Notes. This is a very useful document that all Australian agencies should become familiar with as they work toward creating accessible web content.

  1. They are intended to assist people and organizations involved in developing or modifying World Wide Web pages, by making clearer what the requirements of the DDA are in this area, and how compliance with them can be achieved.
  2. These notes do not have direct legal force, nor do they substitute for the provisions of the DDA itself. However, HREOC and other anti-discrimination agencies can consider these notes in dealing with complaints under the DDA.
  3. Following the advice provided in these advisory notes should also make it far less likely that an individual or organization would be subject to complaints about the accessibility of their web page.

In specific sections of the HREOC: World Wide Web Access: Disability Discrimination Act Advisory Notes it discusses who the DDA applies to and what web services should be accessible.

[Section 2.2] The provision of information and online services through the Worldwide Web is a service covered by the DDA. Equal access for people with a disability in this area is required by the DDA where it can reasonably be provided. This requirement applies to any individual or organization developing a Worldwide Web page in Australia, or placing or maintaining a web page on an Australian server. This includes pages developed or maintained for purposes relating to employment; education; provision of services including professional services, banking, insurance or financial services, entertainment or recreation, telecommunications services, public transport services, or government services; sale or rental of real estate; sport; activities of voluntary associations; or administration of Commonwealth laws or programs. All these are areas specifically covered by the DDA. (Emphasis added)

[Section 2.2] In addition to these specific areas, provision of any other information or other goods, services or facilities through the Internet is in itself a service, and as such, discrimination in the provision of this service is covered by the DDA. The DDA applies to services whether provided for payment or not. (Emphasis added)

Accessibility of electronic commerce and new service and information technologies for older Australians and people with a disability

Accessibility of electronic commerce and new service and information technologies for older Australians and people with a disability was drafted by the HREOC in March 31, 2000.

This report includes the Commission's examination of information technology issues affecting older Australians and people with disabilities. Specifically addressed is the use of digital technology and its potential benefits for many people with disabilities and older people in providing access to previously inaccessible information and services.

Australian National Audit Office Better Practice Guide: Internet Delivery Decisions

HREOC also worked with the Australian National Audit Office to create the Australian National Audit Office Better Practice Guide: Internet Delivery Decisions that provides advice on how government managers can make government internet sites more accessible. This guide explains the reasons for making sites more accessible and also describes the meaning of accessibility.

Government Online—The Commonwealth Government's Strategy

The Commonwealth Government's Strategy was meant to drive the development of a seamless national approach to the provision of online services by acting as a key reference for Government agencies and their stakeholders. It also set out an operational framework for agencies to meet the Prime Minister's target of putting all appropriate Government services online by 2001. This report was released April 6, 2000.

Bruce Lindsay Maguire vs. Sydney Organizing Committee for the Olympic Games (SOCOG)

Sydney Opera House A major case testing the Australian resolve for web accessibility came in June of 1999. More than a year before the Olympic Games, Bruce Maguire issued a complaint to the HREOC, stating that the web site for the Sydney Organizing Committee of the Olympic Games (SOCOG) was not accessible as required by the Disability Discrimination Act of 1992. The following articles summarize the trial, and the decision.

New Zealand Legislation

New Zealand flagThe E-Government initiative of New Zealand consists of a number of different standards, strategies, guidelines, and resources related to electronic information. The scope of the E-Government initiative extends well beyond that of web accessibility, but it does include a web accessibility policy as well, which is referenced within a larger set of web guidelines. The web accessibility policy states that all public sector web sites "must deliver services in a way that is accessible to the people it serves" (emphasis in the original). In general terms, the guidelines state that web content must be adaptable to different user circumstances and preferences, and be accessible to people with disabilities. Specifically, the guidelines say that content developers must design content in accordance with WCAG 1.0 guidelines and that they:

  • must satisfy priority 1 checkpoints
  • should satisfy priority 2 checkpoints
  • may satisfy priority 3 checkpoints

There is one exemption to this requirement, as the E-Government documentation explains:

The WAI requirement to (identify changes in natural language with the lang attribute) does not extend to the Māori language in these Guidelines while support for correct rendering in screen readers does not extend to the Māori language.

Presumably this is because there is a lack of support for the Māori language in browsers and/or assistive technologies.